Grace to you!
You had an inspiration. It was simple and calming. Yet its demand was not what you wanted to do after all. Deep within you, it seems right to do. The result would positively impact lives. It was the first voice within you, the voice of well-formed conscience.
Then comes another voice. It is loud. It aligns with your ego. It is built off of give and take. It seems fair to you. Though you weren’t sure if it springs from true love or charity. It gives you alternative reasons why you shouldn’t follow through with the first voice. It weighs this and weighs that…. It highlights complications that would arise if you followed the first voice. It instills fear and doubt. It shows you all the negatives; hardly, showing the positives. It is a one-sided loud story.
You were swayed. You listened to that second voice. Days or months or years later, you realize you made a terrible mistake. You didn’t listen to the simple invitation of God to follow the right line of action. You realize, “I blew it.” It would cost you a lot to do it over. Yet, be sure that when you realize you made a terrible choice, it is God’s grace inviting you for an incredible rebuilding and do-over. God can rebuild you. Trust God. Walk with God.
Many times, we blow an opportunity because we do not listen to that first voice of God inviting us to a direction that the Lord wants. We read that voice during our prayerful reflection on God’s Word in Scripture. It speaks to us during Public Worship. It ministers in our conscience when we are alone, or out and about in our daily lives.
Because that first voice is gentle and simple, we tend to ignore it. We, like Prophet Elijah, think that God would have to be in the thundering wind and speak in a loud and magical voice. Yet God was found in the quiet (1 Kings 19:11-13); the quiet of our soul where God speaks with that gentle voice, “My child follow this way. Follow me.” Great are those who pay attention and follow that first voice. They do incredibly great. That is one of the secrets of greatness—Listen to the first voice.
Today, we celebrate the life and witness of the Apostle, Saint Andrew. He was the brother of Saint Peter and always mentioned fourth on the list of the apostles. Not much was written in Scripture about him except his call (Mt 4:18-20; Lk 5:11; Mk 1:17-18); his name as one of the twelve apostles (Mt 10:2-4); the role he played during the feeding of the five thousand when he pointed to Jesus that there is a boy who has five loaves and two fish (Jn 6:8-9); and the fact that he was a disciple of John the Baptist and followed Jesus at the Baptist’s testimony (Jn 1:35-40).
Yet from the scanty story, one could infer how he was a person who listened to that first voice of God calling. When the Lord walked by the sea of Galilea and invited him and Peter to follow him, Scripture says, they left everything and followed the Lord (Mt 4:18-20).
How refreshing it is to read such a story of unreserved faith and discipleship. Saint Andrew listened to the first voice of God calling him. He is a man of faith.
Leaving everything and following the Lord isn’t an easy thing to do. It’s like giving the Lord all you are and all you have. It is total surrender to the will of God in your life. It is a true testimony of spiritual greatness.
In our life, how do we leave what we must in order for the Lord to lead us? Most of all, could we leave our comfort zone and step into the deep, of faith life?
Remember that first voice in your life, each day, each week, each month, etc. Follow that voice of conscience that springs from the Lord’s inspiration to do good and to be a blessing unto others and a source of inspiration. The more you follow that voice, the greater you grow in your spiritual life, and in blessings too.
Praying that we open our eyes to see God’s plan and purposes in our everyday life. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
[November 30, Feast of Saint Andrew: Rm 10:9-18; Mt 4:18-22]
A friend invited me to be with the family as their dad passes. “No one dies alone” is a precious way of accompaniment for the dying.
For the dying, it is the reassurance that their loved ones would never leave them alone at the most decisive stage of their earthly journey. For the loved ones of the dying, it is a sober moment of tears, of sadness and, sometimes, of intense reflection on the meaning of life.
I watched the family grapple with this inescapable reality that dad would be gone and never return. He passed calmly after receiving the anointing of the sick with the apostolic blessing. Our faith tells us about the great grace of justification that can come from this wonderful sacrament. It’s incredible spiritual healing too.
As I drove home, I was reminded of the reality that every beginning in time has an end. I was reminded of my own end. I wondered off in a sort of imaginative daydreaming. I imagined who will be at my bedside. What my passing would be like. What would be my spiritual state at that moment when the Lord decides to take me home….
Those thoughts reminded me of the end, the last things according to our faith tradition—death, judgement, heaven or hell. The Church does not ignore to remind us of these facts. In reality, the Lord Jesus would often include the last things in his great teachings.
As believers, we cannot fully live the life of the redeemed unless we think seriously about the life to come. The resurrection of Our Lord and Savior reassures us of our own resurrection too. Our birth into this life and in the Lord in baptism, is a journey unto our birth into heaven, in the bosom of the Father.
For Christians, we are looking forward to what Saint Paul calls, “the upward call of God in Christ” (Phil 3:14).
In the Gospel of Mark (13:24-32), the Lord, speaking to the people toward the end of his life on earth, reminds them of their own end. He equally tells them about his Second Coming. In that conversation, he sheds more light on the prophesy of Daniel concerning the Second Coming (see Dn 7:13, 12:2-3). He speaks of the great tribulation, the shocking events, the catastrophic phenomenon, the coming of the Son of Man, and judgment (Mk 13:24-27).
He makes a prophesy which isn’t so clear to many and has been misunderstood by many too. He says: “So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mk 13:29-32).
The great preacher of the fifth century, Saint John Chrysostom, who was the archbishop of Constantinople, in his Homilies 76 and 77 on Matthew 24:16-18 and 32-33 respectively, explained that two events are discussed here by the Lord. He was of the view that when the Lord says “this generation will not pass away before all these things take place”, two meanings are referred to here. First is the immediate generation of the Lord and refers to the event of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem which happened in AD 70. The Lord’s word came to pass, as it always does.
The second meaning of “this generation” Saint Chrysostom suggests, refers to the new generation born of Christ. It is a generation not as a result of birth in time but by “religious service and practice” as hinted in the Psalms, “Such is the generation of those who seek the Lord” (Ps 24:6) (Hom. 77).
While the Second Coming of Our Lord is a fait accompli, in our lives we live in such a way that our own end will be in the Lord. Christian life reminds us that the last things are for real. Someday we will die. Then will come judgment. Then heaven or hell. It isn’t one choice—heaven. There are two—heaven or hell.
Praying for the grace to be ready when the Lord chooses to call me home. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[33rdSunday Year B: Dn 12:1-3; Heb 10:11-14,18; Mk 13:24-32]
Grace to you!
I’m ecstatic to read God’s word in the Gospel of Luke 10:21. “In that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said: ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to infants; Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.’” (Lk 10:21)
It warmed my heart to realize Jesus is actually excited when someone understands or grasps the gift of his revelation.
So you know, the Greek word used to describe the joy the Lord felt is egalliasato. It has a sense of someone who is excited and full of exultation and joy for seeing a loved one, such as a child, win.
Imagine you going to watch your child in kindergarten or high school, or even college, play his or her first baseball for the school. Imagine the kind of excitement you’ll have if your child hits a home run which decides the game. It’s comparable, in its highest form, to the Joy Jesus felt.
Or the excitement of watching your humbling child, whom you thought would never make it through college, graduate in flying colors. I would love for you to think about that very moment and that kind of joy. It isn’t even close to what Jesus felt.
Did you also notice that in expressing his Joy, the Holy Spirit and God the Father were referenced too? “Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said: “I thank you, Father…” Thus, it is a joy that is complete, a joy which has three divine persons’ participation, a Trinitarian Joy.
Imagine that the Joy Jesus feels is the Trinitarian joy for you and me. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit share in the joy when we come to believe in Jesus as Lord. It reminds me of the parable of the lost sheep and lost coin in the Gospel of Luke 15, when Jesus tells us that there is great joy in heaven when a person welcomes the grace of conversion.
Think about this: God is excited when we discover He is God, when we have faith in Him, when His revelation is clearer to us. There is joy when we know Jesus as the truth, our hope and salvation. There is joy when we participate in the work of God, and our names are written in the Book of Life.
Isn’t this a wonderful thing to be aware that God is excited about the believer? This should stir in our heart sentiments of gratitude. Gratitude to God who has given us the grace to relate with Him as a friend and a brother in Christ. Our hearts should be filled with joy when we connect the dots of divine conversation and be part of the work of bearing witness to Christ.
We ask the Good Lord to open our hearts to see more and more; connect more and more with the life He has given through Christ. May God fill our hearts with joy and may our joy be complete. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Saturday Week 26 Ordinary Time: Job 42:1-3,5-6, 12-17; Luke 10:17-24]
Grace to you,
In my reflection yesterday, I talked about the need to look around us, admire and share the good we see. There is much good around us. It takes a positive mindset, a virtuous heart to see the good and spread the good news.
May I advance that reflection further by suggesting that there are many bearers of the good news around us. News is about people, places and events. Bearers of good news are people. It’s people who shine the light for everyone to see. It’s people who announce or live the story.
When the poor in India saw the unequalled care, love and attention of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, they found, after all, Christ in that woman of incredible virtue. She was indeed a sister of Jesus. You wouldn’t need to second-guess the qualification of being a brother or sister of the Christ. The answer is straight from the horse’s mouth.
The Lord said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it” (Luke 8:21). The Blessed Virgin Mary heard God’s word and acted on it. She is the archetype of true faith and true charity. Her role as a model is unique.
Christians are so called because they emulate Christ. They also spread the good news of Christ. They live the Word of God.
Several times, you may have seen people in your circles who have been Christ to you; offering hope and inspiration by their words and lifestyle. Christ in us is the seed of that goodness.
The Church is rich, providing us with great models of faith to emulate. From the contemplatives to the extroverts, advocates to monastics, from the religious to the laity, the military to politicians; from every nation and people and language, name it. The Church has models relatable to all and for any. The Church is truly Catholic—universal; and has an appeal across the centuries and across the world, in the sense that whatever spiritual model you desire, and no matter where you are located, you would find it in the Church.
In the spiritual life, it’s always inspiring to know many have gone the route of holiness in Christ in his Church before us; and that we would, by the grace of God, be part of the story. Someday.
It will be the most beautiful thing that our hearts’ desire will be to hear God’s word and follow it every step of the way. May praising God and shinning the light for everyone to see be our passion. How I wish we desire and love to be saints.
This wish is a prayer with a hope-filled divine blessing. Amen.
God love you. God bless you!
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday Ordinary Time: Prov 21:1-6, 10-13; LK 8:19-21]
Grace to you!
We continue our reflections based on 1 Corinthians.
Apologies for my inability to post our reflections for the past three days. The news of the death of a friend and a classmate, a dedicated priest with great examples of pastoral fervor, affected me emotionally. May the gentle soul of Fr. Jude Egbom rest in peace. Amen.
We read from 1 Cor 8:1-13, Saint Paul’s response to one of the pastoral challenges in the early Church of Corinth. Many in the community were worshippers of the Roman goddess Venus. So, from time to time, foods offered to Venus, especially at festive times, were presented for meals and socialization.
Some Christians who believed that idols were mere work of human hands and empty images, would eat those food. For them, sacrificing food to idols was an empty ritual since the idols have no life, mere façade.
On the other hand, some believers saw the eating of food sacrificed to idols by some of the brethren as sinful and therefore, a cause of scandal. For them, by eating food sacrificed to idols, the believers were participating in idol worship. Hence, Paul writes to address this specific problem. This story will resonate with many who live side-by-side those of tribal religions.
Saint Paul’s pastoral recommendation was that though it is the right knowledge to insist that there is only one true God—idols are not the real God—, and that food offered to idols do not have any effect to the believer if they eat it, believers should be careful not to cause scandal. He says that because some believers may not have the same solid knowledge and understanding that idols are not real, eating food sacrificed to idols could cause their weak faith to sin. In that case, it is better for one to avoid eating such food. Nothing is worth causing another person to sin. “Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother’s falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall” (1 Cor 8:12-13).
One sees in this advice of Saint Paul an emphasis that deserves keen attention. The believer’s primary goal is to glorify the Lord in all we do. It is also to inspire others to do the same. It is to act in the spirit of charity. In all we say, do or not do, it is the Christ’s way not to be a stumbling block to holiness, to what is good, true and beautiful. Even if something is good for me, if it would lead someone else to sin, it is more Christlike to hold back from enjoying it.
Scandal, from Greek σκανδαλίσῃ(skandalisē) means “to cause… to falter or fall”. Literally, it means to be a stumbling block on the way of someone. Though some stumbling blocks could be a good thing, just like when we have a bump in the road to stop us from speeding where it is dangerous to pedestrians, the scandal that Saint Paul talks about here is the sinful one. Saint Thomas Aquinas describes it as “something less rightly done or said, that causes another's spiritual downfall” (ST, 11-11, 43.1).
Thus, scandal in the sense used above does not occur when we are doing what is good and holy. Rather, scandal occurs when we are doing something sinful or that leads to sin. It could also occur when we are not charitable in saying or doing things that may not be sinful, but could be done with better love. It could also happen when we fail to act to promote what is good or when we are indifferent to what is evil, such as abuse of minors and the vulnerable (e.g. the current Church scandal), or culture of injustice.
In all, we learn that for the believer, we do not live our lives as if it’s all about us and what is only in our interest. As Saint Paul says, “We live for the Lord.” (Rm 14: 8). We live for one another also.
Praying that in all we say, do or not do, we live for the Lord and for charity. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday Week 23 Ordinary Time: 1 Cor 8:1-7, 11-13; Lk 6:27-38]
Grace to you!
A concerned Catholic emailed me. She was heartbroken because of the horrible news regarding the alleged homosexual predatory actions of a retired top-ranking US Cardinal. In addition, there is the horrifying Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. Her faith was shaken. Her tears were intense.
The woman isn’t in this alone. Over the past two months, many Catholics have been scandalized and horrified by the reports we read. Many clergy, bishops and priests, who are dedicated to their vows and the service of the Lord and God’s people, are in deep sorrow too.
Has there been a week another saddening news doesn’t break? The cases of abuse of minors by bad apples, Judases amidst numerous devout clergy—and their manipulations, seem more real than many of us thought. As a priest, when I walk down the street or in the shopping mall wearing my roman collar, the shadow over my head seems to suggest, “Are they thinking of me as one of them too?”
As I prepare this reflection before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, I’m deeply saddened. The pain is unbearable. I’m agonized by thoughts of many victims of the obnoxious practices, and the victims of other perpetrators in the priesthood, and in the wider society.
As a priest, charged with the spiritual care of people like the woman who wrote me, I don’t know the right words to say to the faithful who have been scandalized by our bad example. Forgiveness isn’t enough. Zero tolerance plus holding the culprits accountable, no matter their place in the hierarchy, is necessary. I pray for the victims, their family and friends, for justice, healing and grace of restoration. I pray for all of us, the faithful, also.
I pray for the conversion of sinners too. Reparation for the sins against the vulnerable in our midst. Reparation for the sins against the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as mother Mary consistently asked during the Fatima Apparition.
My heart is bleeding. I feel now more than ever, since my priesthood, the pains of betrayal. My religious, pious sensitivities and love for the Lord and His Church, make me mourn to see how we cause grave wounds to the Body of Christ.
I believe this is a moment of decision. In the past, during the exilic experience of the people of Israel through the desert (Jos 24), they were faced with many difficulties—social, cultural, religious, moral, economic and political. They were torn between affirming faith in God who had saved them from slavery in Egypt and choosing an alternate religious cult.
The leader, Joshua, sensed their religious dilemma. He didn’t keep silent and allow it to simmer. Rather he confronted it head-on. “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Jos 24:15). When the faith is challenged by new evidence that seems to make us to question, “Why am I a Catholic?” “Why am I a believer?” “Why am I a priest?” “Why choose to enter the seminary?” It is the right time to reaffirm one’s faith.
There is incredible wisdom in the Church’s Liturgy. There is wisdom in every line of the liturgical prayers. So it is in the Eucharistic celebration. Every Sunday, we are called after the homily to reaffirm our faith--The Profession of Faith.
We need to profess our faith as many times as possible. The profession of faith, the Creed, is a prayer and a constant reminder of why we believe what we believe. The profession is a testimony against the challenges to our faith also. Did you notice that there is no place in the Creed, where Catholics profess “I believe in the Clergy…bishops, priests, deacons?”
During one of my teaching series on EWTN on “The Faith with Fr. Maurice”, also in my book,Our Journey to God, I had emphasized that a faith centered on people is an idolatrous faith. Scripture says, trust in God not in people (Ps 118:8). We are humans and capable of doing terrible things if God's grace isn't with us. Give the devil a little chance, and the consequences are disastrous. By the way, this should not be a reason for the clergy not to lead examples consistent with their holy vocation.
If you are a believer, when you face temptations to the faith, reaffirm your faith in the Lord and in His body, the Church. We can’t separate the head of the Church, Christ, from His body, the Church (Col 1:18; 24; Col 2:19; 1 Cor 12:21; Eph 5:29-30).
The Lord Jesus showed us a similar example in the Gospel of John chapter six. After the long and astonishing teaching on the subject of the Eucharist, the “source and summit of the Christian life,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1324), the Lord saw that many left him. They couldn’t accept the teaching.
He was left alone with the twelve. He, as God, knew their hearts. He knew he had given a teaching which only faith and professed faith can stand. He didn’t wait for them to battle with it and suppress it. Psychologists tell us that there are times suppressing a problem makes it worse.
So, the Lord confronted it. He asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” (Jn 6:67).
I believe this question is appropriate this day, this week and the coming weeks. Concerning the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandals, many faithful (laity and clergy) will have to deal with similar questions regarding their faith in the Lord and, more importantly, their faith in the Church, the Body of Christ and in the Eucharist. I sense that other facts may come out in the open in the coming weeks, many of which will be more troubling to the faithful. I believe the Lord is purging His Church. The question will continue to reoccur until the moment of purging is over. “Do you also wish to go.”
Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:68-69.
I pray that Peter’s response is ours also. We profess this faith. We reaffirm it. We can’t go from the Lord. We embrace the Eucharist. We hang in there with the Lord and His Body, the Church, while we work together, chaired by the faithful laity, to see that justice is done.
Culprits should be made responsible for their heinous actions. Victims will find justice through proper accountability and just restitution. Hopefully, and praying, there will be closure. In matters of this kind, it is not enough that justice is done. Justice must be seen to have been done.
In the meantime, “I believe. We believe.”
I pray for you, for the grace of fidelity, as well as firm resolve to see that justice is done. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[21stSunday Ordinary Time B: Jos 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Eph 5:21-32 or 5:2a, 25-32; Jn 6:60-69]
Grace to you!
Last Sunday, we saw how the Lord Jesus fed thousands of people by the sea of Galilea (Jn 6:1-15). That miracle was a pointer to the Eucharist. Our reflection today follows from last Sunday’s, as it is its continuation (see Jn 24-35).
After the miracle of the feeding of five thousand, the Lord left the western shore of the sea of Galilea, also called the sea of Tiberias, and crossed over to the northern shore, to the city of Capernaum, a journey of about 6.3 miles. As the Lord continued the work of the Father, many who received the miracle followed him across the sea (Jn 6:24).
The seed of faith was already planted in their hearts. They had started to warm up to Christ. Their intention may not have been the right one, yet their desire was important for the first stage of faith life.
The Lord gradually and steadily leads people to himself as Lord and Savior. Often, faith life begins with material concerns and, by the grace of God, matures into deeper life in Christ.
Have you reflected on how your faith life or those of some of your friends or relatives began? It may have been due to simple acts of kindness shown by a believer. It could be because some of your social, emotional or physical needs were met. You came to the Lord and then, the Lord gradually takes over. Initially you were in charge. Gradually, if you are truly growing in the interior life, the Lord takes over and leads you to where he wants. Often, as he told the apostle Peter, he leads you to where you would rather not want to go. When this begins to happen, you’ve started living the life of Christ.
The story of the people searching for the Lord in the above referenced gospel could be our story also. Their followership of the Lord at this stage was based on social concerns. They were fed with bread. A great miracle. They were determined not to lose sight of Jesus, “the miracle worker” in their midst. He has to stay with them. They could crown him king (Jn 6:15). They could lobby the powers that be to make sure he stays in their city and not go elsewhere. He is an asset that has to be “owned” as their property. All for wrong reasons.
So, when they finally saw the Lord across the sea, they expressed their curiosity because they had been looking for him. He knew their hearts. As God, the Lord knows every heart. He sees us through and through. When we gather in worship, he knows why each and every worshipper has gathered.
The Lord sees those who follow him because they want to belong to the “club”—social identity. He knows those who come because they see the Church as a place they can find a suitor, a friend, or build social relationships. The Lord knows the heart of some worshippers who come to him because they believe that a member of the church has the connections to the job or opportunities they are looking for. The Lord knows those who come simply because it is the family tradition. He sees the heart of those who come because they are lonely and bored at home. The Lord equally knows those who worship him in spirit and truth; those who believe in him as Lord and Savior. The Lord knows every heart, including yours and mine.
He told the people who crossed the sea searching for him as he tells us: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal” (Jn 6:26-27).
These words are challenging as well as inspiring. The Lord is speaking to us about the need to purify our intentions every step of the way. He points to the need for faith in him as the food that endures to eternal life, which he alone is and can give. He gives this food in the Eucharist.
True faith is life in Christ. It is faith in the Risen Lord, not simply because our material, social, emotional or psychological needs are met, but because we belong to the LORD. We long for him not simply because of the works of his hands. Rather, it is because we are to live in him and he in us. We desire true life in him. Life in him is the ultimate desire.
This life the Lord gives is not our work. It is his work in our lives. He gives the life. We receive the life. He offers his body as food, the bread of life: “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (Jn 6:35).
We receive the Lord, the bread of life and are transformed in his likeness, so our own lives could become a sacrifice for others. We become like him who we eat in the Eucharist. Again, this isn’t our work. It’s God’s work for us.
Sometimes, like the people who followed Jesus because he fed them, we believe that we can work our way to salvation. We believe we can have this life in God by our human efforts only or by our strategic planning. We kind of ask: “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” (Jn 6:28). We focus on the physical efforts to be made. We easily forget the inner demands of faith that have to inspire whatever we desire to do for the Lord. We forget that it is not action in faith, but faith in action. We tend to live as if salvation is our works bringing about our faith. We ignore the biblical model of our faith inspiring our actions.
Scripture tells us that the Lord replies that the work of God is to believe in him, Jesus Christ, whom God the Father has sent (Jn 6:29). When we believe in the Lord, our poor faith will grow into mature faith.
We will see in the coming week (next Sunday), how the deepening of this faith, its highest form of encounter, is in the Eucharist, the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
In the meantime, for your prayerful experience this week, you may want to ponder on why you believe in the Lord and how that faith is rooted, not simply in what the Lord will give to you, but in what you will become in God.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[18thSunday Year B: Ex 16:2-4, 12-15; Eph 4:17, 20-24; Jn 6:24-35]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.